SIDNEY — Sidney senior defensive lineman Joey Bishop said some were writing off the team after a 35-7 Week 1 loss to St. Marys.
“There was a few people I heard that doubted us because of that one loss,” Bishop said. “I feel like we bounced back good and I feel like we can continue to improve and potentially can play in Week 11.”
Bishop and the Yellow Jackets are hoping to convert the last of their unbelievers and take another step toward a playoff berth on Friday.
Sidney (2-1) will host defending Division III state champion Trotwood-Madison (1-2) in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American crossover game. The Yellow Jackets haven’t beaten the Rams since 2003 — and most of their recent matchups haven’t been close.
It will be the last time in the foreseeable future the teams will meet. Sidney and the nine other GWOC American League teams are leaving the conference to reform the Miami Valley League next season. Trotwood, which has largely rolled over American League competition the last two years, will remain in the GWOC.
“We feel like we have a chance to beat them,” Bishop said. “… This is the last time we’re going to get to play them maybe even ever, so we hope we can leave with a victory.”
Bishop said the team feels like it’s already proven something with its 2-1 start. After a lopsided loss to the Roughriders, Sidney beat Bellefontaine 31-28 in Week 2 and Belmont 38-6 last Friday. Both Bellefontaine and Belmont earned playoff berths last year.
A win over Trotwood, which was 15-0 last year, would get the attention of any remaining doubters.
The last time the teams met in 2015, Trotwood won 59-21. The Rams, which have played in six state title games since 2010, won their previous five matchups with Sidney by an average margin of 49.4 points.
Trotwood beat defending Div. II state semifinalist Winton Woods 13-3 in Week 1 but lost 33-6 to Simeon Career Academy in Week 2 and 42-19 to Pickerington Central last week. Pickerington Central is the defending Div. I state champion, and Simeon Career Academy is one of Chicago’s best prep programs.
“They’re sort of similar to us in that they had to replace a lot from both sides of the ball from an outstanding team last year,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “They’re trying to figure out who they are a little bit. They’ve been running a couple of different quarterbacks out there, some different running backs and different combinations of receivers.
“… They’re still really good. Their team speed is still where it’s always been at. They’re still a very, very good football team and have played an extremely tough schedule. You can’t look at that 1-2 record and think they’re not the same Trotwood team as usual.”
The Rams are averaging 243.7 yards per game on offense. Junior Keon’tae Huguely (236 passing yards, 66 rushing yards) and senior Kenyon Sneed (152, 56) have split time at quarterback.
Ke’shawn Huguely leads the team with 154 rushing yards while Sneed, Justin Stephens and Isaiah Winchester have 85 or more receiving yards. The Rams have had 12 players catch passes and eight players carry the ball in the first three weeks.
“Both of their quarterbacks have looked really good at times and have struggled a little bit a times,” Doenges said. “It’s just a matter of getting some reps and seeing who can give them the best option. I’m not really sure who we’ll see Friday, as well as at running back. Like we are, I think they’re still trying to figure out the right mix.
“… They’ve shown a couple of different looks. They’ll come out four- or five-wide and try to sling it around, which they’ve done the majority of the time. But they’ll also come out in double-tight I, traditional pro look that Trotwood has done in the past.”
The Rams have allowed an average of 264 yards per game. Senior defensive end Kennedy Coates leads the squad with 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks, while junior Sammy Anderson has intercepted one pass. Anderson has gotten offers from five colleges, including Georgia Tech and Cincinnati.
Anderson isn’t the only college prospect on Trotwood’s roster. Senior center Jaison Williams (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) has given a verbal commitment to Akron. Stephens, a 6-6, 245-pound senior tight end, has offers from LSU and Michigan State among others.
Doenges said Sidney’s ability to distribute the ball to different playmakers could help in trying to move against Trotwood’s defense. The Yellow Jackets had 374 yards of offense last Friday against Belmont. Five players had rushing attempts and six players caught passes.
“We’re going to have to continue to play our game,” Doenges said. “We’ll see what the defense gives us, and we’re confident enough they’ll give us something we can use. We’ve got five different guys out there (at one time) that can make a play, and if tonight’s your night, tonight’s your night.”
Bishop, who has 13.5 tackles and one fumble recovery this season, said he’s confident the Yellow Jackets can play with Trotwood up front.
“They’re still big,” Bishop said of Trotwood. “We’ve just got to hold our ground, stay at the line of scrimmage and do our job. We’ll be okay.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.